My concern with the Egyptian military is that it's heavily invested in businesses. I don't know if that was the case with Turkey or ROK. My impression is as you say the Turkish and ROK armies were trying to look after what they viewed as the best interests of society. Once you start having the military own businesses though, that takes them away from having an organizational focus on what's best for society and makes them start focusing on the gobs of money they are making.
From an NPR article:
Ugh, just ugh.No one knows for sure how many resort hotels or other businesses in Egypt are run by the military, which controls somewhere between 5 percent and 40 percent of the nation's economy, according to various estimates. Whatever the number, Springborg [a professor at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School] says, officers in the Egyptian military are making "billions and billions and billions" of dollars.
The Chinese military has similar issues. Although the Chinese military seems to be everyone looking out for themselves, whereas the Egyptian military seems to have more centralized control. Some analysts have doubts as to whether or not the Chinese military would be a very effective fighting force, since individual officers have gotten used to just looking out for their own interests. Although I suppose that was true of Western armies as well prior to the 20th century.
A lot of nations have had a bumpy ride, and we all have a lot of nastiness in our closet. South Korea is a real democracy now. Let's hope Egypt gets there. The jury is out whether they're going to get there at all, bumpy ride or not.I'm hoping for a South Korea type scenario. AIUI South Korea started out as basically as a military dictatorship but slowly morphed into a real democracy. Turkey more or less seems to be following a similar path.
If Egypt is a South Korean-level democracy in 20 years that's going to be a huge win, regardless of how they get there. Is it going to be better if they do it quickly and without bloodshed, absolutely! But I still view South Korea as a positive example of a military that gave up their power and made way for a modern democracy.
"Bumpy ride" is an euphenism. How many corpses is keeping a Muslim democracy down worth?
Note the alternative here is an actual democracy. You're not choosing between brutal communists and a brutal military dictatorship - it was a false dichotomy then, but at least on paper it was one.
This time you're choosing between an actual democracy and a military dictatorship, because hey, at least they're not religious! I'm pretty goddamn sure the citizens of Egypt disagree with your long-term hopes for their dead bodies.
As to the timeline of South Korea, the military dictatorship fought giving up power until the very end. It wasn't some enlightened despot scenario.
But they are where they are.
You seem to think that if we just wish for it we'll have unicorns and puppies. I'd like unicorns and puppies too. But since we don't have that, South Korea is an example where ultimately the military gave way to a democracy. Note that there are a lot of counter examples where military rule went from disaster to disaster -- Pakistan comes to mind as does sadly pretty much every African country ever.
Maybe the Egyptian transition will go faster than the South Korean one. If so great! Maybe it will happen next month or next year, if so great! But maybe it won't happen at all. You don't think South Korea is a positive example? Then come up with your own examples where what was essentially a military oligarchy gave way to a real democracy.
I'm pretty sure ydejin isn't advocating a military dictatorship, but merely speculating on what path Egypt might take. And of the possible paths, I'm afraid something along the lines of the ROK or Turkey looks more likely than actual democracy--which would entail the military actually giving up power. That only happened in Korea and Turkey over a long period of time, during which as Jason points out many bad things happened to many people. In other countries, the dictatorships only ended violently.
I'd love to see what Egyptians themselves really want. Maybe they'd be willing to let the chips fall where they may and give full-on democracy a shot, even it means the Brotherhood is calling the shots at first, if they were given the chance. As long as the military has the sort of stranglehold it seems to have on the political process, though,
"democracy" of any sort seems not that much closer than it was a few years ago.
....why would I want to do that?You don't think South Korea is a positive example? Then come up with your own examples where what was essentially a military oligarchy gave way to a real democracy.
The talk about "dictatorships that evolve" is just a false premise. It has a long and embarrassing history.
I am still hopeful.
The revolution has already achieved a lot - the machinery of Mubarak's party is defeated, he is no longer ruling us nor is his son going to rule after him in a monarchical republic. We now have an entire generation of Egyptians who have become completely politicised and will not allow the erosion of the rights of free speech that emerged with the revolution. We have had free, fair and open elections that were monitored thoroughly by media and NGOs.
On top of that, the last few months have seen the weakening of the fundamentalist Islamic trends in Egyptian society. If you look at the parliamentary elections, the Muslim brotherhood won nearly 50% of the seats, and the Salafists won around 20%. In the first round of the presidential elections, when the Brotherhood had to properly contest the elections with the liberal and secular forces, they only got 25%, a figure much closer to their actual support within the population. The Salafists didn't have a proper presidential candidate, and their promise of backing the moderate Islamist Aboul Fotouh in the first round was irrelevant and he was still defeated. They are in a state of disarray.
It will be interesting to see what the Brotherhood decides to compromise on.They have said that the Supreme Court doesn't have the constitutional authority to dissolve the Parliament - which is partially true in Egypt's bizarre political scene. The Appellate Court is the only one that can do so I believe. There is also a lawsuit against the Brotherhood as an unconstitutional organisation. And finally the official results for the elections are not in, and Ahmed Shafik may very well end up winning this.
The Brotherhood has said it will try to convene Parliament anyway, and the committee tasked with drafting the Constitution (the military has convened its own committee because it says it has legislative authority after the dissolution of Parliament). So they might very well be headed towards a clash, maybe even a violent one.
Ultimately I think there is no going back. We are either headed in a direction in which we become either Turkey (with initial powerful military involvement that gets eroded by civilian leaders eventually) or Pakistan (where the military remains a possible instigator of coups and retains power of military and foreign policy). I hope we become Turkey, but it will be a longer battle that needs to be fought everywhere.
I really appreciate your taking the time to post and provide us with an inside perspective Kareem!
Thanks for the kind words guys.
Just a note on the judiciary - Egypt's judges were actually seen just a year ago as pretty much the only credible institution under the Mubarak regime, which is why this turn-around was a major surprise. The judges were seen as a key factor in limiting the fraud of the Mubarak regime during elections, and many of the members of the judiciary participated in the revolution.
However, the SCAF has politicised and made a mockery of the Egyptian justice system, and this was exposed primarily in the crisis over the American NGO workers some months ago. After pledging to let the system do its work, the generals simply flew the NGO workers out of the country on American military planes a day after judges overseeing the case resigned due to pressure by the SCAF. It was clear at that point that the military was not letting the judges operate with independence.
There was also the Mubarak trial, where Mubarak was inexplicably tried for the crimes committed during the protests, in which it was much harder to prove direct orders of shooting demonstrators, rather than a sweeping trial and indictment of his 30 year reign. Then they declared Mubarak was responsible for murdering protesters, but acquitted the police generals who were tasked with carrying out the actual kill orders. Incomprehensible.
And finally, before the Parliament issue, the justices disqualified a number of controversial presidential candidates, some like the Muslim Brotherhood's first choice Khairat Al Shater over semi-frivolous issues, and others on technical grounds.
Either way they've plunged themselves deep into this game.
Also SCAF are basically being complete dicks at the moment. In addition to the outrage of the constitutional principles that cement their power that they want passed, they have also announced the appointment of a military man as the next President's chief of staff. Simply ludicrous.
On the subject of what America can do, supporting my earlier point on cutting military aid until SCAF reneges on its naked constitutional coup, check out this NYT op-ed, The Betrayal of Egypt's Revolution:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/19/op...=1&ref=opinionGiven the military’s consistent disregard for basic democratic norms over the past 16 months, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s comment last week that “There can be no going back on the democratic transition called for by the Egyptian people” sounded ridiculous.
Despite the army’s blatant power grabs, the Obama administration has had no qualms about restoring American military aid, waiving a Congressional requirement that links military assistance to the protection of basic freedoms, so as to preserve the United States’ longtime alliance with Egypt’s rulers.
America could have sided with the Egyptian people if it had wanted to. But the question is whether the American government really has the will to see Egypt become a democracy.
If the Obama administration genuinely supports the Egyptian people in their pursuit of freedom, then it should realize that democracy will take root only through the revolutionary path that started on the streets in January 2011 — not through the dubious ways of the Mubarak-appointed military council.
Unfortunately US policy makers are likely going to quietly prefer a military regime to a muslim regime in Egypt. If the presidential election process had produced a more secular option then things might be different, but there are still a lot of people who fear the Muslim Brotherhood's ultimate objectives.
This is Tahrir Square now, in outrage at the military:
There's no going back, even if it's a second revolution. SCAF is playing with fire.
And in classic timing, Mubarak's heart has stopped beating.
Seriously, do these things get timed for maximum emotional impact? I'm stunned and overwhelmed.
He's "clinically dead."
Are they trying to find Miracle Max or something?
His heart apparently stopped and isn't responding to revival attempts.
The Supreme Court may still overturn his death though.
Oh yes... My mother got safely back from Cairo, so thank you for not having to warn me about anything Kareem. :)
The military just declared their guy the winner with 50.7% of the vote. (not confirmed but reported by CNN)
Question is will the Egyptian soldier fire on the citizenry and make another Syria.
If the US doesn't side with democracy, there's a good chance here the US will make their worst fears come true. Honestly, I think it's time for the US to try and put some pressure on Egypt.
Last edited by Alstein; 06-22-2012 at 11:20 PM.
And Mohammed Morsi has won. Time to party like it's 640 AD!